The reason why I’m learning Italian is pretty much summed up by this picture.
It’s not because of the brightly colored houses…or the quaint and charming village…these are just some of the bonuses.
This little village in the picture is where my great-grandparents are from. Varese Ligure is a sleepy farming village nestled in the mountains not too far from Cinque Terre.
My grandfather was born just after his parents immigrated to California. Since his parents didn’t speak any English, his first language was Italian. He didn’t even learn English until he went to school, and always spoke with an accent.
I never met my grandfather because he died before I was born. I feel like I know him though, through my mother and grandmother’s stories of him. I grew up with my mom always telling me stories of “the old timers” (her relatives from Italy), and her passion for her Italian heritage was passed on to me.
Unfortunately, during the time my mother was growing up, the attitude in the United States was that if you are American, you speak English.
I’ve always felt that language and identity are interconnected. Speaking Italian is one of the things that defined my grandfather. To me, the Italian language is like a family heirloom that I am missing and want to reclaim. It is the only tangible way that I can know a small part of my grandfather.
Perché sto imparando l’italiano? Per conoscere un po’ mio nonno.